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Charles Hill Education. (2011) Charles Hill ('Trial of a Thousand Years World Order and Islamism.')

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  CSPAN    Book TV    Charles Hill  Education.  (2011) Charles Hill  
   ('Trial of a Thousand Years World Order and Islamism.')  

    July 10, 2011
    9:00 - 10:00pm EDT  

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palestinians and jews and in 1948 the israelis had to ethnically cleanse the palestinians to create the jewish state that was 80 percent jewish and 20% palestinian. as you can imagine the israelis did not want the world to know they had engaged with ethnic cleansing. they invented a series of myths of what happened to make it look like palestinians were responsible for their own demise and not the israelis themselves but it was not true. >> host: john mearsheimer "why leaders lie" was it a fun book to write? >> guest: very much a fun book to write because i didn't know much about the subject. . . where
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booktv is on location. thank you for being with us. >> my pleasure. ♪ coming up next, booktv presents "after words" an hour-long program where we invite guest hosts to interview
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authors. tonight hoover institution research author charles hills discusses his latest book. in it mr. hill provides a historical perspective on islam analyzes what he calls the long war against the international state system. he identifies several areas in which he claims islamists are at wore with the rest of the world including their belief in the role of state law and the role of women. he discusses his analyses with david ignatius, foreign affairs columnist for the "washington post." ♪ >> host: i'm david ignatius, a columnist for the "washington post" and author of a new novel. i'm here today to interview charles hill who is the author of a nonfiction book called "trial of a thousand years: world order and islamism." it's a very interesting book. and we're going to try to
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broaden some of the themes and let me begin, charles, by asking you -- this is an unusual sort of book. it's more like an old-fashioned essay than some of the monographs that we see coming out of the academy. and perhaps you could just state simply what you see is the subject of this book. what is the issue that you're seeking to unlock for us? >> the subject is really in the subtitle and that's world order. in some sense that has slipped away from the minds of leading statesmen, i believe, and also within that world order the international state system, which is the way that the modern world going back 350 or so years has evolved to order itself internationally. and what we see here and what i'm addressing is can islam or
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islamism as the word is that we have come to employ for this -- can it fit into the established international world order, the international state system. after world war i, as the whole middle east region was pulled into that system but the states that formed the region and the regimes that govern them didn't do well. and so the region as a whole has always been in this modern era in a kind of advery -- adverarial to the treaty systems -- there's always been that kind of tension there and i want to examine to see what the origins might be and what the
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prospects might be. >> host: to help perspective readers of this book perhaps you can summarize the distinction you bring to modern states to states that post-date vest failia and that ended long wars which you say states that focus on prospects, that the purpose of the state was issues of process, not issues of substance, meaning not issues of religion. perhaps you could just draw that argument out a little bit and tell us why those westphalian states, why those states have had trouble in this part of the world where islam is so strong. >> before the modern age, that's before the early 17th century, going all the way back into antiquity there were lots of
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different concepts of world order. the chinese add world order. the world order in the south asian area. a world order of the mayans people thinking of themselves as being the center of the universe and conducting things and that was the only way to do it. that changed in the early modern period, 15, 16, 17th century when there was what i call the reconnaissance of the world when people coming out of europe primarily began to realize that there was a globe out there and that there were many, many different kinds of people in different societies, different religions and it was going to be a very difficult thing to figure out how to deal with something. the catalyst of this is really the 30 years of war, 1618 to 1648, which was a religious war and the religions are
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substantive. one religion says i have the answer, the other says, no you don't. i do and they clash. and coming out of that war in the treaty of westphalia 1648 you get the beginning of what is now still the modern -- the contemporary state system and it's pretty simple. the state is the fundamental building block of it. but as you say, it began to decide that it had to be procedural, in other words, the substantive approach to world order coming out of antiquity could not accept another substance. we are in an adversarial position and the only way to deal with the multiplicity of positions all around the world was to say, just follow these
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three or four procedural guidelines and you can do whatever you want to do inside your own state. and part of that, the state itself became part of the unit of international diplomacy, international affairs replacing primarily the empire. empires before this time were -- they were their own world orders and they were very substantive. they usually were some kind of conceptual contact with the divinity. but the modern system said, no, that's not going to work. we're going to put religion on the shelf diplomatically not that you can't have your religion that they were against religion, but don't bring your religion to the bargaining table, to the negotiating table so we began to get this system into which the empire -- as they began to fade away, either wished to get into as in the case of ottoman empire or very
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aggressively wanted to stay out of, as in the case of the chinese empire and in some sense the course of modern history the last 200, 300 years has been the struggle of whether the international state system had its procedures to succeed against one challenge after another. and that challenge today is coming out of islam and primarily from what we're calling islamism. >> to what extent is your argument here similar in terms of the -- of the argument that samuel huntington made in clash of civilizations where he talked about islamist civilization and its values and it's trajectory being fundamentally in collision with the west? on all sorts of levels and i found myself reading your book
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that's the same basic confrontation that you're talking about. so tell us in what ways is your argument like huntington's and what ways does it diverge? >> it's a little bit like it but it's fundamentally quite different. the huntington argument, the clash of civilizations when we look back on that book, and i -- before his death brought that up with professor huntington directly, it really is not a book about the clash of civilization. it's kind of a disguise look at that. it's really about islam because when you look at what huntington is looking there, there isn't any clash between civilization and it wasn't there. when you begin to draw the lines of clash of civilization, they are all coming out of islam. islam as he said has bloody borders. so in some sense it takes off
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from that point, well, then what really are we talking about here? and what i'm trying to get at in this book is that islam or islamism, that version of islam remains with a mentality that doesn't fit here. they are substantive in their own view because of shari'a law and how they see the cosmos. and the international system says, well, okay, but don't bring that into our diplomacy. even though we have to because this is the way we're thinking. >> let me ask you a few questions just to poke at the edges of that piece of that and start by asking about efforts to modernize states and political cultures in the arab world that
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we associate with the so-called arab renaissance or the foundation of the baath party. the baath party very specifically wanted to create modern state institutions that were not dependent on islam. that were post-ottoman. that were not little slices of the caliphate but were parts of an arab nation that was imagined but very specifically had room for christians, muslims, jews if they would remain. the whole appeal was for secular states, it was argued, modern states? is that an effort that you would endorse in principle putting aside the barbaric uses to which baathist ideology was put into
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effect like saddam hussein and others is that idea of creating modern inclusive space a good one. >> it was in the concept in some sense, but it was not in practice. it was a taking up of the large idea of nationalism. and whereas in the modern state system there is nationalism in a state's own culture in its own view of its place in the world, what happened in the middle east was that nationalism became pan-arab nationalism and in some sense it was another way within the region that the idea of the state became undermined so when you would say 30, 40 years ago talked to someone from damascus and you would mention the nation of syria, they would say no, no,
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you can't answer that. it's the arab nation. >> the iraqi and baath party saw a division of the arab baath party as if these national boundaries were mere momentary inventions. i asked about iraq because in the book i found more enthusiasm for george w. bush's call to arms in 2003 in the march invasion of iraq than one usually encounters now. even among people who were supportive of the war, who were members of the bush administration. it's typical in my experience as a columnist to find people looking backwards really scratching their heads and saying, you know, we're glad it turned out than people feared but we have to be honest, given what we now know that there weren't weapons of mass destruction, that war didn't make a lot of sense. there's a more enthusiastic account of the war in your book,
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just to read one brief passage, you're talking about the moment of argumentation at the united nations. there's never been a clearer case of an outlaw state using its privileges of statehood to advance its dictator's interest in the way that it defied and endangered the international system. so let me just ask, do you, as you look back, is there a little bit of doubt as to this was the right course to have taken? >> guest: no, i have no doubt that it was the right course to take. it was not conducted well and we ran into enormous troubles and stumbles in the state and errors that really sank president bush's approach. but the decision to do it was absolutely necessary. i was at the united nations in the early mid-1990s. i was not an american official but a u.n. official but i can tell you saddam's iraq was just
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the only topic of conversation. he was just driving the united nations crazy from every direction. but he was just part of the larger dysfunctional situation across the entire region, which they were states but the regimes that were governing those states which were military dictatorships or monarchies or they were under false pretenses parliamentary-like systems was the boss and his boys and so governance was really, really bad. and in the case of saddam's iraq and it's also the case in other places and states in the middle east they really were -- the word was "rogue." they were both using their state privileges that were the international system. they were in it nominally when it served their interests and they were working against it
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when it served their interests. saddam was doing that all the ti time. it all began with his takeover of kuwait >> host: the takeover of kuwait certainly revealed a lawlessness. i heard iraq was governed by torture and physical intimidation and my comments -- i'm certainly not making a brief for saddam but to step a little further, you mentioned the mistakes that followed the invasion of iraq. when i look back one of the most overwhelming things was the sort of naive enthusiasm about democracy and about knocking out all of the pillars of the iraqi state that has been building since 1920. that stated been argued you
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could argue kidnapped by the baathist party. it had its own character. the universities in iraq were among the best in the arab world. the quality of engineering, of intellectual work, famously, the iraqis were known as the germans of the arab world because they had this fairly rigorous approach. iraq was relatively speaking where women had substantial rights. i covered the war from the ground up and watched this from swe, 2004, 2005 -- what i saw a picking out the pegs of that whole system, taking down the army, an institution in which iraqis had some pride, independent of the way the views, kicking down all the institutions down of the baathist and every consequence of the country and what iraqi was left nothing was nothing
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about the primitive notion of religious sect and the tribe and the clan and that's the iraq we end up with and in our weird way our invasion of iraq pushed it back into that reforms to our continuing detriment. we're nowhere near out of the woods in for my judgment than when we entered in 2003. i want to respond it turns to the intellectual arguments in your book and not an emotional way. >> the way you described it is a way that many in washington did affect iraq just as you described it. >> that was the cia analysis. >> and felt when saddam was overthrown that the german-like engineers would come forward that there would be the pillars of institutions that would be relieved of the terror and the fear and that it would be a fairly easy thing to do to see
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iraq come in to its own once saddam was gone. it didn't happen and it wasn't because of our counsel, jerry bremer there. when iraq was lifted, the iraq that was saddam's baath party rule over it, those towers underneath it, tribal and religion and i think particularly the sunni, shia divide which we didn't see at all -- we didn't have any at all clear picture of the -- how poisonous it was between the two sides of islam, that burst forward completely beyond what we expected and out of our control. and when we were making progress in 2003 and 2004, in 2006, with the blowing up of the shia mosque, that kicked off the sunni-shia battle that we had just no way of getting any kind
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of control over. >> certainly, the people who might have kept iraq on this path of steady modernization or and when we abolished the army and called everybody in the baath party to account people felt there was no place for them in this new iraq. do you think this was a mistake? >> guest: and that is what 9/11 really brought to the floor. i don't think the press really
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followed it -- didn't elaborate upon it or didn't question it sufficiently. but it was that looking back, going back to the end of world war, looking back to the collapse of the ottoman empire and the collapse of the caliphate in 1924, we really could see that the region had become increasingly dysfunctional, increasingly poisonous. terrorism was on the rise. we didn't understand terrorism in 1980s when i was in the state department, we didn't know what we were doing there. not until the mid-1990s did we begin to understand some of the forces behind it. when 9/11 came, president bush and in his national security strategy, 2002 put that forward, our policy across the administration, democratic and republican across the decade had been the realist policy. we would follow our own national
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interests. we would seek civility. we urged reform and it hadn't worked. we had sought civility and reform and it didn't work and that's when president bush put forward what became known as the freedom agenda. is that the only way to get good governance that is stable, sustainable and lasting in this region or anywhere in the world is through a government that is responsive to its people. that means it's on its way to the democracy and through a democratization process and it's something that the u.n. after the fall of the soviet union began to actually write into u.n. security council before. there's no democracy in the u.n. charter but starting in the 1990s the u.n. began to see that
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democracy was a procedural step. it's a very important intellectual point because democracy was not in the u.n. charter because in the minds of the international civil servants, it was substantive. but in the 1990s, there came an international understanding that it was procedural. that is going back to the philosopher, if you don't have that kind of a republic or democratization in your politics, you're not going to have transparency. you're not going to be able to have good governance. it's all going to go downhill from there. and so that is what president bush was talking about. >> host: the transformation of the greater middle east. and so when we look around us today in 2011, what we see is a phenomenon that's being called the arab spring which is the
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movement across the arab world and stretching into iran, a movement for self-determination, a movement that seems to espouse democracy, the consequence of that movement has been the forced depart of the presidents from egypt. people -- those who supported united states were seen by their people and the people were right or autocratic leaders. the question i'd ask you, looking back 10 years was whether the bush administration having decided on the need for this freedom agenda should have moved more quickly and decisively to push the mubaraks out and whether if that's so, the freedom agenda should have stretched more broadly to saudi
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arabia. >> the idea behind president bush's approach behind the national security strategy of 2002 and certainly what is a remarkable speech that is the second inaugural of george w. bush that's 2005, that is almost an emancipation proclamation for the world. it calls for the end of tyranny in our generation. it's an amazing speech. but the troubles in iraq was so great at that time. it was derided. you, of course, recall bush was -- >> host: should that speech have been accompanied by a very aggressive effort to push mubarak out. the declaration of the world should we have seen and we're going to start with the biggest arab country, historic center of the arab world, egypt. would you have like to have seen it. >> i think it should have been done that but not as step one.
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step 1 is to deal with the dictators and try to get them out of there positions of power and to see the -- mubarak is not a dictator. if he was a dictator he would still be in power. >> host: that's some truth to that. even though monarchs have been overthrown as we've seen through history. you focus on the year 1979, a year when there were many dramatic changes in this part of the world. and you in tparticular meet wit the iranian revolution that brought a new situation where the ayatollah khomeini put in rule and others and you describe that as a kind of watershed
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moment and year. maybe you could talk a little bit about the consequences of the iranian revolution. i'd be particularly interested if you would see it as the french revolution and the european system. >> guest: the iranian revolution clearly it's been called the last great revolution and i think it's certainly in terms of its consequences and the scale of it and the intellectual power behind it is in the category of the great modern revolution. but it is one going in the wrong direction. strangely, i think it's not fully understood although you refer to it and you clearly understand it is that ayatollah khomeini reworking before he took power of the political theory of the shia world. that is, in his dialog, that when he was in exile working
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through a political theory which transformed intellectually transformed the idea behind shiaism and that is kind of a quietist idea awaiting for the turn of the mahdi. you turn into something that is going to be ruled by the cleric. they are going to be in the positions of political party. that's where we get the theocracy in iran and the enormous influence -- impact of this was that this was something that using the category of islamism that's the radical side of islam that we're talking about here, not islam itself but the radical side to it, that was the takeover of a state that was in the international state system. and that had a huge impact intellectually in terms of interspiriting people. and also when that happened, the
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iranian, the islamic revolution, they wanted to bridge the sunni and shia divide and so that was something that had a reach across all the regions and that was the discovery of the iranian nuclear program is really what lies behind the -- before this arab spring, the sense that we were seeing a kind of loose coalition of arab states coming together to see that iran was the real problem that they were facing and that was replacing -- >> host: conservative states certainly saw iran as the problem. what became increasingly apparent in recent years was that some iranian figures -- the lebanese shiites emulating them hezbollah were pretty popular figures among ordinary arabs.
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just to ask you a question, you're contrasting the activism of the khomeini and iranian revolution to normal mainstream shiaism. you describe him as a city rebuke to the iranian establishment at one point. but surely the rise the rise of sadr and the shia that predated iranian influence, the rise of sheik mohammed who led a strong shia movement that had roots amongst shia across the arab world would argue a little bit against that, among shia i talked to there's often a view the ayatollah of naja are pretty
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sleepy old fellows but there's dynamism in the world and looking to sistani, and some younger people is wise. how would you react to that? >> i think that that's correct in terms of shia rise. the shia certainly downgraded the downtrodden, dismissed within the muslim world for generations and generations. i point to it going back centuries and centuries. and that rise was detectable fairly early on and certainly before the iranian revolution. but what has happened here is that and perhaps a parallel with the baathist nationalists it goes wrong. these movements that should be one of reform or perhaps
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progress get taken over by radicals in the case of the shia rise taken over a revolutionary iran, revolutionary in the sense of a revolution that's against international order. so that by taking over the state of iran, we get the iranian republic today which really has set itself against the international state of international order. >> host: do you think that a post-revolutionary iran, it's hard to define exactly what that would look like, can be drawn into a stable international architecture? and my framing point for that would be the congress of veena in 1980 in which post-revolutionary france and the other rising powers were brought into structure alongside the status quo powers, do you think something like that could happen with iran in the middle
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east or is that impossible given your analysis? >> i certainly think it could happen. i think the green revolution of 2009 was an early indicator of that. that's what i was referring to in the book when i say looking across the border. the iranian shia can see another kind of policy that is certainly thoroughly shia but it's one in which the clerics are not in the position of prime minister. and say why can't westbou be mo like iraq today. president obama pointed to that as a 2009 protest in tehran as perhaps the starting point of the arab state and i think that's wrong. the starting point really was the revolution in lebanon in 2005 and that puts us back to
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where most of our intelligencia doesn't want to go and that is the fall of saddam hussein is what really kicked us off. and the bush approach to it, the bush second inaugural address which was quickly quashed and president bush did not go forward with it politically it's impossible for him to do that was nonetheless there. the issue back then was -- the question i think in the halls of the state department for generations had been do arab people want to be free? and the answer that we got again and again was no, they don't. they have islam. we don't need that but the arab spring who in the month of this year, the answer is yes, they do. and so -- >> host: whoever doubted that didn't spend much time in the arab world is my judgment. let me ask you one of the really provocative passages of your book where you really take on
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political correctness, if you will. and you say that one of the ideas that people have wrong is when they will say as is often the sense by general petraeus and among others, that there's no military solution to conflicts that we're fighting today as in iraq, as in afghanistan. that in the end the resolution of that have of this will be a political matter and you say that's wrong. the first order of business and winning the war is to kill the enemy fighters. very forthright statement but one that does go against the grain and i'd ask you to look at afghanistan today and assess whether you think that approach of killing enemy fighters is going to lead us to something that's going to be called a military solution? >> yes i do, but i'm not saying the military solution is the
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only part of the solution that matters. there has to be that military solution. there has to be the imposition of the mind in the enemy that you're going to get killed if you go up against the americans. and i think that's what's happening in afghanistan now. there's something of this in the -- in iraq in the awakening of the sunnis to the west of the country, the idea that this was a tribal battle but the americans turned out to be the strongest tribe and that's something that's being defined by the others and, of course, that is in the middle of a huge complex of building helping and developing projects that's going on that's really designed to do one big grand strategic thing that wherever you look in the
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middle east and that is to shore up the strength, the responsiveness of the state wherever we're looking, whether we're iraq or iran today or afghanistan to prevent pakistan from beginning to sell the idea of a two-state solution and they're all within this september of an international state system and we're going in the wrong direction. >> what i see on the ground and i travel often to afghanistan is to be honest with all the power of the u.s. military, you have an incredibly competent military but in the end that's not enough to substitute for the poor governance that the afghanistan paid and the institutions
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provide. and so we're pushing businesses to walk uphill and we never get there and i'm sure you -- it's hard to find anybody to defend president karzai's governance. >> that's true, too. but good governance brings us back to something like the democratization, something like that procedure and it's going to be their own culture -- but it's going to be something the people will have a way to control, to change those who are going to run their governments. and this is something you can't avoid. when the dictators fall, you have put in place the basic institutions and procedures for getting responsive governance. >> let me turn back from these issues in the news to the intellectual argument at the core of your book which is a
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very challenging one. and you're really taking on the basic question that i've been following as a journalist for 30 years one way or the other, can islamic countries and people adapt and accommodate the modern world in the way the modern world works? and you cite an author who's an uncommonly good writer and thinker about these issues, and what you say is the charp choice that he poses in the end. it's basically to my question -- as i understand his answer and i think yours, no, not in its current form. the way you characterized his choices he frames is this way. there are only two possible outcomes, either shrink islam or relegate it to the private sphere making it like the
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nonestablished religions of the modern era or create an alternative modernity. that's a lot of big complicated ideas there but maybe you could unpack that for us 'cause i found that really at the heart of the arguments you're making here. >> this book and some of the others here but the aallowi is perhaps the most comprehensive of intellectuals of the muslim world for taking on this very, very seriously. and they have to have a great deal of respect because they are turning away from it. they are not giving us the easy answers. they are not putting any veils over things. and it really does come down to -- the only way i see it, it's very hard to see true muslims being able to do this. but there are some ideas here that are coming to the floor and
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i treat these as well that shows some indications that there is in islam, in even traditional islam, there are plenty of places to go in the theology of it where if you want to do it, you can find that -- what you want to do in terms of moving toward a more procedural more modern way can be done -- >> host: it does shrink the role and claims of its vis-a-vis safe. >> guest: the one thing that i think is the key to this and alowi and a couple others go at it, too, where they say that islam was not designed to be imposed by the regime that is running its state. and, therefore, there's something anomalous or even heretical where the entire
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government is telling the entire iranian population how to be muslim. there's something wrong with that. if you go in that direction then you can begin to get the idea that you can be truly muslim, truly islamic but you don't have to be doing it what the regime is telling you what to do in terms of the minders do in terms of what you can wear and so on. >> host: final question, in your book, at various points there is a theme that i would identify loosely as declinism. you cite the works of oswald spangler, the decline of the west. you cite gibbon and his account of the fall of the roman empire. you quote at the very beginning a bleak statement by henry kissinger about america's
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capacity to survive and prevail in this world. and so i want to put it to you straight up somebody is obviously very thoughtful and done a lot of reading and deep thinking. do you think that america's decline in this world that you've described is likely? i'm not asking is it inevitable but given that you see today, realistically, would you say that we're on a downward slope? >> guest: no, definitely not. i'm not a declinist. i think we have to recognize that there is a very strong strain of anticivilization, anti-international order that goes back to the early modern age of our era and i track it to russo and we must have a
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revolution to overthrow it and i think it's inside like a virus lurking inside the present civilization that we need to recognize. but recognizing it we can overcome it and we do seem to overcome it almost without consciously thinking again and again and again. we face something that looks like decline in one decade or another and we emerge and we emerge stronger because we're more flexible. we have more freedom. we have more ability to react and adjust. and i think what we're looking at here particularly in the united states is a country, a culture that is unique and i'll even use the dirty word exceptional because it's the first global -- truly global society and it's free and when it's free people raise hell about it and that's cleared up.
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so i think we're on an upward swing, not downward. >> host: so with that affirmation of the american idea, i want to thank you very much, charles hill, i had a pleasure as a journalist to be covering you, watching you as you've done many jobs over several decades. the name of the book is "the trial of a thousand years," it's a deeply observed and carefully written account and very thought provoking. thank you very much. >> guest: thank you, david. very challenging questions. >> that was "after words," booktv's signature program in which authors of the latest nonfiction books are interviewed by journalists, public policymakers, legislators and others familiar with their material. "after words" airs every weekend on booktv at 10:00 pm on saturday, 12:00 and 9:00 pm on sunday and 12:00 am on monday.
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you can also watch "after words" online. go to booktv.org and click on "after words" in the booktv series and topics list on the upper right side of the page. >> well, one of the larger displays here at bookexpo america 2011 is the perseus book group, several different imprints are under the perseus name and one of them is public affairs and the publisher of public affairs books is susan weinberg and some of the books coming out by public affairs and some of the future books coming out by public affairs. susan, how should we start out? >> we can start out with a book coming out now called the philanthropy of george soros book he has given billions of
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dollars which is based on his principles and putting his philosophy to work around the world. he covers his projects from around the world and it includes an essay from george called my philanthropy where he lays out his principles and what animates his giving which has really turned out to be his major business now at this point in his life. >> now, right next to that, susan, is core economics. >> core economics is one of the most exciting big idea books we've had in a while. the authors are the founders of the mit poverty lab and they have really pioneered the idea of, let's do some on the groundwork experiments, observations to learn what really works in development. where should we put our efforts, where should we put our money and they are award winning, acclaimed economists whose work is really getting a lot of attention and really being embraced now. when i read the proposal, i felt
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this is the most important work on poverty i've read since we published professor eunice. >> host: susan weinberg, does that book include the concept of microlending? >> guest: well, the microfinance bank professor eunice does have some microfinance and microlending and some of the research on the ground that they've done on it but it has lots of other techniques, too. it looks at how poor people really live and what they will choose to spend their money on when they have money. how they make decisions and then does -- almost like controlled experiments to see what will help in the long run. for example, what's the best way to distribute bed neither to protect against malaria? or asking questions to people who seem not to have enough money for food, why did they buy a tv instead of more nutritious food and you can understand that and affect the decisions they might make about their lives.
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>> i want to ask you about the cover on that book with the not there down in the corner. >> i think the idea there is untying the knot of poverty in the developing world. and it seemed kind of a good motif but really we felt the words on that cover were so strong that we didn't want any kind of illustration to get in the way of it. it's a very powerful statement this book makes. >> unnatural selection, now you were very excited about this book. >> it's one of those proposals again when i read it it was like this is what we're here to do. we're here to do these kinds of books. i call her a scholarly journalist and she's worked at places like the chronicle of higher education, based in shanghai. she's going back to beijing, i believe, to be the editor of science magazine now for them there. but she -- you know a lot of us say one-child policy in china, you know, why so many more boys than girls in china and india and other places and we say,
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huh, that's funny, what's going to happen there but then we move on to another question. wa-marjah didn't move on. she said what does this mean there's so many missing girls. what's going to happen when these boys grow up and there's no one for them to marry? how will they create families? what will society be like and she has asked those questions both about the society and what's going to happen because of that, but she also went back and researched how did this happen? and some of it what we think we know about things like one-child policy but some of it has to do with zero population growth and an enthusiasm for population control that has had great unintended consequences and i think we'll surprise people. >> and that book is unnatural selection. right next to that, two books about some troubled nations. >> yes. dancing in the glory of monster about the congo by jason stearns -- our editorial director got this book in from
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actually a friend of jason's, the wonderful journalist mckale wrong who has written also about africa. she's from the financial times and she knew -- she said, you know, there's nobody who knowses much about the congo as jason stearns. you should talk to him. jason stearns had a big baggie manuscript and clive said there's a book in here and we're going to find it and they honed the book. clive's claim for the book you can't understand anything in the newspaper in the congo if you haven't read this book because the story is that complicated and the news stories are such a tiny piece of the whole of what's really happening there. and the reviews have bourne this out, the "wall street journal," the economist, i could go on and on but the reviews of this book have been just an amazing response. and we're really seeing people not backing away but saying, i want to know about this story.
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i want to hear more about the congo. >> dr. paul farmer. >> well, paul farmer, as everyone knows, partners in health. and has worked so hard to develop health care in places like haiti. has a very interesting, you know, medical school kind of organization and practicing medicine on the ground in places like haiti. and the effect of the earthquake in haiti and the work they've done and the level that they got to know haiti, he just said, i want to write about it. i want to write about what has happened, what is happening? is the response adequate and is the response from world leaders being used. is the aid being used as best as it could be and he gives an opportunity to get haitian voices involved in this issue.
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he talks about how -- he gets different people involved in haiti that he has known often for many years to write about this so paul is not only talking about the experience of haiti but he has also been able to give voice to people in haiti who in all the brouhaha and all the publicity have not necessarily been heard from. >> susan weinberg, the photo on the cover of this is rather powerful. >> it really is. we were looking for something that would convey the mix of emotions you get when you think about haiti and the earthquake and you think about the recovery and it is such a mixture of hope and maybe despair of, you know, grand plans but also understanding that everyone is so vulnerable. >> we are talking with susan weinberg who's a publisher of public affairs books and over here on your board i want talk about sally jacob's new book, the other barack. when is this coming out and tell us about the book. >> sally jacob's book is asking
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out in july of this year. and this is a book, as the subtitle couldn't say it better, the bold and reckless life of president obama's father. sally jacobs is a long time correspondent of the "boston globe" and she said when she -- you know, she kind of did a profile, you know, of obama and kenya but all through the phone, you know, not really deep enough and she said, if he's elected i'm going to go to pursue this story. she's never done a book before. she never found a story she felt committed to. she's been to kenya many times and she talked to everyone who new barack obama, sr., and she has put together his life story in a way that is riveting, wresting and revealing and i say, you know, if president obama read this book, he would learn things about his father that he doesn't know. and i think it's an amazing contribution to our knowledge of the president and his family.
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>> what's it editing a journalist? >> it's an interesting process. journalists on the one hand can write very fluidly and they're used to the idea of changes and rewrites so, you know, they're not kind of hugging their precious prose but sometimes the book -- the arc of a book versus the arc of a series of featured stories can be very different. and i think our editors often find that's the thing they most work on is getting the arc and getting the story line together. the arc of this book is amazing. the focus is where it should be on barack obama, sr. it's his childhood in kenya. it's his time in the u.s. including the time at the university of hawaii and including harvard. it's the story of how harvard and immigration service decided, you know, maybe you're a lot of trouble. maybe you should leave and then what happens when he goes back to kenya. >> and very quickly, three more
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books we want to preview from public affairs starting with peter thompson. >> peter thompson "the wars of afghanistan" is an epic book and that's because peter thompson's knowledge of afghanistan goes very far back. he was involved in both the soviet period, in between the american involvement. he has had roles in afghanistan on the diplomatic level. he speaks russian and pastun. he has a gift for languages and so he was able to read documents in their original language that not many people are able to master including some archives from the soviet period that no one had ever used before in their research or in their work. and he brings a passion and a level of both detail and scope to this story that we think is unique. and it was -- it's quite -- it's quite an effort getting a book like this together but absolutely worthwhile and we're
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thrilled it's going to see its reading public in july. >> two books on the media that are out or coming out the deal from hell and inside the "new york times." >> the deal from hell by james o'shea is a story about the "chicago tribune" and what has happened to media businesses from an insider. jim o'shea was a long-time writer from the "chicago tribune." he became the editor of the "l.a. times" and he has the reporter and management experience not quite on the other side but in the decision-making meetings and it is the full unvarnished story of what's happened to media businesses in america by focusing on the story of the tribune company. page 1 is a book in our series of books that we have done in conjunction with participant media. we've done books and films like food, inc., and waiting for superman and this is their new
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film. it's called page 1 inside the "new york times" and we've done a book with david folken clothe flick who is an npr reporter with a collection of essays again taking this subject beyond the film's limitationlimitation. it can in a visceral way to get you the story but can only tell you so much. these essays in these books tell you more fully what's going on with media today, especially digital print, what the future might look like. >> and i know i said just two more but we've got one more to look at. and this is the unquiet american. rob, it's over on the wall there if you can get that. richard holbrooke. >> well, this is a book that we're very proud to be involved with. richard holbrooke's widow came to us, a bunch of people, and said, you know, we think you guys would be perfect to put together a book that really captur